November 25, 2020

The aborigines of Gran Canaria managed the death of their deceased through three funerary landscapes

The aborigines of Gran Canaria managed the death of their deceased with the creation of three types of funerary landscapes that changed over time according to the ways of life of each era, so they bequeathed the Guayadeque caves, the Arteara burial mounds and the cists of the Hole in Gáldar.

Canary Islands Cemetery -Guayadeque

This is one of the lessons learned from the fifth virtual visit of the Cabildo in which almost 200 homes connected to take a thousand-year trip and learn about the Death Heritage of Gran Canaria.

The aborigines of Gran Canaria through the management of death guaranteed the social reproduction of norms, behaviors and places related to the diversity of the burial practice, since the dead continued to be part of their society, only that when they died they became ancestors .

Isothermal for the deceased

The Canaries Cemetery in Guayadeque was the first stop, archaeologists have found the remains of around one hundred people at eight meters high and in this environment the population had an intimate relationship with their deceased, since the natural caves were not only houses, they were also spaces to house the dead.

The first occupation of this ravine dates from the second century, remains of people in the caves without distinction of age and sex. The preservation of both bones, plant fibers or animal skins is due to the isothermal energy of the caves, which with their constant temperature makes them appear warm in winters and cool in summers, but the truth is that their temperature it is constant, which also makes them ideal for living.

Archaeologists study the hypotheses that at that time, the ancient Gran Canaria society prevailed the collective over the individual, and also that these environments were designed to be used for a long time. It is very interesting that despite their age they continue to provide valuable information.

The badlands and death

The second stop was at the Arteara necropolis, which has a thousand burial mounds that the aborigines built between the 7th and 11th centuries on a bad country framed by a 60-centimeter high perimeter wall.

The burial mound is an orderly pile of stones like a tower, it has different sizes and only houses a corpse, at that moment social distinctions begin to prevail, that is, the individual versus the collective, because in the cemetery, the aborigines They assign special places to the burial mounds that are larger.

Another difference is that the aborigines no longer live with their deceased as in the case of Guayadeque, but instead look for an environment to turn it into a cemetery, in this environment the corpses are not preserved as in caves, and there are men and women, but not there are newborns or infants.

The coast and the deceased

The third and last stop was at El Agujero, in Gáldar, in a cemetery of cistas, which are dry stone constructions in a hole in the ground to deposit the corpses. These types of cemeteries are very close to coastal towns that have access to marine resources. And at that time economic, social and cultural changes also occur, and the transition from agriculture to fishing and shellfish farming takes place.

The aborigines of this area give individual treatment to the corpses and one can speak of funerary monuments that vindicate the social order in life, if there were inequalities in it they are transferred to the cemetery, hence the differences in the location of the cists. In this environment, more men than women have been found, which archaeologists associate with a privileged position of men at the time.

The similarity in the three types of funerary landscapes, both in the caves, burial mounds and in the cists, is the position of the bodies, all are face up, tied wrists and knees, and wrapped with plant fibers.


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